173 The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp

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Martha
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173 The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp

#1 Post by Martha » Sat Feb 12, 2005 9:04 pm

The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp

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Considered by many to be the finest British film ever made, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, is a stirring masterpiece like no other. Roger Livesey dynamically embodies outmoded English militarism as the indelible General Clive Candy, who barely survives four decades of tumultuous British history (1902 to 1942) only to see the world change irrevocably before his eyes. Anton Walbrook and Deborah Kerr provide unforgettable support, he as a German enemy turned lifelong friend of Candy’s and she as young women of three consecutive generations—a socially committed governess, a sweet-souled war nurse, and a modern-thinking army driver—who inspire him. Colonel Blimp is both moving and slyly satirical, an incomparable film about war, love, aging, and obsolescence shot in gorgeous Technicolor.

• New 4K digital master from the 2012 Film Foundation restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
• Audio commentary featuring director Michael Powell and filmmaker Martin Scorsese
• Video introduction by Scorsese
• A Profile of “The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp,” a twenty-four-minute documentary
• Restoration demonstration, hosted by Scorsese
• Interview with editor Thelma Schoonmaker Powell, Michael Powell’s widow
• Gallery featuring rare behind-the-scenes production stills
• Gallery tracing the history of David Low’s original Colonel Blimp cartoons
• PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Molly Haskell

PREVIOUS RELEASE:

The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp

[img]http://criterion_production.s3.amazonaws.com/release_images/878/173_box_348x490_w128.jpg[/img]

The passions and pitfalls of a lifetime in the military are dramatized in Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's magnificent epic, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp. The film follows the exploits of pristine British soldier Clive Candy (Roger Livesey) as he battles to maintain his honor and proud gentlemanly conduct through romance, three wars, and a changing world. Vibrant and controversial, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp is at once a romantic portrait of a career soldier and a pointed investigation into the nature of aging, friendship, and obsolescence. The Criterion Collection is proud to present Powell & Pressburger's masterpiece in all its Technicolor glory.

- New high-definition digital transfer of the British Film Institute's restoration of the original full-length version of the film
- Audio commentary featuring director Michael Powell with Martin Scorsese
- Carlton International's 24-minute video profile, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp
- A collection of rare behind-the-scenes and production stills
- A collection of David Low's original Colonel Blimp cartoons
- Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hearing-impaired
- Optimal image quality; RSDL dual-layer edition

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Last edited by Martha on Mon Sep 19, 2005 12:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Cinesimilitude
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#2 Post by Cinesimilitude » Mon Sep 19, 2005 12:11 pm

on DVDBeaver, Gary says that the film is epicly romantic, yet none of the romances presented are fulfilled. I really really dig romance in movies and it really bothers me when things dont turn out good.

could someone tell me, without spoilers if possible, does the romance have happy closure?

ezmbmh
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#3 Post by ezmbmh » Mon Sep 19, 2005 12:28 pm

not to sound too arty, but no, Candy's romance doesn't turn out, but his romance with the lost re-appearing figure of Deborah Kerr is wonderfully bittersweet and the film's romance with his silly, adventurous, affirming career certainly is uplifting. not to mention the film's qualities of technique and characterization. so, as often, life sucks, art doesn't.

BWilson
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#4 Post by BWilson » Mon Sep 19, 2005 8:03 pm

SncDthMnky: Fulfilled romance or not, if you miss this film you are doing yourself a great disservice. It is a fabulous film.

Cinesimilitude
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#5 Post by Cinesimilitude » Tue Sep 20, 2005 10:58 am

Yeah, I figured that would be the case, so It's on the way.

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Gordon
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#6 Post by Gordon » Tue Sep 20, 2005 7:07 pm

My favourite British film. Probably.

I'll explain why some day. :wink:

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#7 Post by Michael Strangeways » Tue Sep 27, 2005 8:45 pm

Roger Livesey is one of those unsung actors that never quite made it to the A Levels of fame but should have...it really is a wonderful perfomance and matched by both the always sublime Walbrook and Deborah Kerr in her first big movie role. And it's very easy to see why Powell fell in love with Kerr; she is breathtakingly beautiful here.

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#8 Post by GulleyJimson » Tue Oct 11, 2005 5:47 pm

Also David Mamet's favourite film, and his wife's favourite film is also by Powell & Pressburger.

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david hare
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#9 Post by david hare » Tue Oct 11, 2005 8:21 pm

Gordon we agree!

I love both Livesey and David Farrar in Powell's movies. One feels they both might have become stars but cetainly Livesey's oeuvre in Powell seems to be a little self contained unviverse of decency all on its own,

According to Powell Farrar simply decided to slide out of the movie biz. Shame as he and the gorgeous Kathleen Byron are one of the great screen couples in both their movies together.

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Gregory
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#10 Post by Gregory » Tue Oct 11, 2005 10:14 pm

I find this an enjoyable film in many ways. However, it's also very ironic that for all the controversy that surrounded its release, it likely served a propaganda function for many people because its "criticism" of the British military was more of a testament to the strength of its supposed tradition of fairness and honor. Of course, many people become swayed into an outright totalitarian mindset during wartime and even mild quasi-criticisms of government policy or military conduct are treasonous. Even though I understand these pressures, I've always found my enjoyment of this film just a little bit hindered by the premise that the British Army is out of touch because it fights too fairly, especially given the extensive record of British violations of international rules of warfare during World War I, the atrocities committed during the Boer War, etc. The thrust of the criticism seems to be that anything goes in the good cause of defeating Hitler, and so for example large-scale bombings of enormous numbers of civilian in Dresden, Tokyo, and so on are not only justifiable but noble.

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zedz
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#11 Post by zedz » Tue Oct 11, 2005 11:45 pm

Gregory wrote:Even though I understand these pressures, I've always found my enjoyment of this film just a little bit hindered by the premise that the British Army is out of touch because it fights too fairly, especially given the extensive record of British violations of international rules of warfare during World War I, the atrocities committed during the Boer War, etc. The thrust of the criticism seems to be that anything goes in the good cause of defeating Hitler, and so for example large-scale bombings of enormous numbers of civilian in Dresden, Tokyo, and so on are not only justifiable but noble.
I find the film rather more ambivalent than that. Simply suggesting that British military conduct in WWII might have slipped from the idealised standard of the empire's mythic past seems to me an extremely brave thing to do in wartime, and their hot-water dunking supports that assumption. I think P&P pushed the question about as far as they could be expected to in the circumstances, and for me the film suggests that the degeneration of combat ethics is deplorable (if necessary) rather than noble.

I also assume that past British violations of the niceties of war were anything but common knowledge at the time, but I'm quite prepared to be corrected by any historians in our midst.

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Gregory
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#12 Post by Gregory » Wed Oct 12, 2005 12:25 am

I just don't agree with the notion that it's ever necessary or inevitable for a nation to erode standards of international law to which it has agreed, for example against genocidal acts of warfare. My previous viewing of the film left me with the clear message that as lovable as Blimp is, his time has rightly past. It's likely that this was explicitly clear to the film's audience, too, within the wartime context. I should see the film again, but even if that part of the film's position is more ambiguous than I have allowed, the film is very clear on the matter of my other criticism: the notion that the British were ever so strict in their adherence to international rules of warfare.
I also assume that past British violations of the niceties of war were anything but common knowledge at the time, but I'm quite prepared to be corrected by any historians in our midst.
I believe that's right. According to British propaganda, like that of any other country, it was unthinkable and unintelligible that one's own side could possibly be to blame for atrocities. That's an important point, too, but for me it merely makes the film's position fairly unsurprising, but not redeemable in this regard.

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ellipsis7
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#13 Post by ellipsis7 » Wed Oct 12, 2005 4:50 am

It's interesting in the script of COLONEL BLIMP in the WW1 scenes where the South African Officer takes over the interrogation of the German prisoners, the use of intimidation (through mock executions) is far more explicit...

It's a wonderful film, which certainly got the wind up Churchill, maybe a bit of 'Blimp' himself!

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tryavna
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#14 Post by tryavna » Wed Oct 12, 2005 12:11 pm

flixyflox wrote:Livesey's oeuvre in Powell seems to be a little self contained unviverse of decency all on its own
Flixy, have you seen Tony Richardson's The Entertainer or Joseph Walton's (a.k.a. Joseph Losey's) The Intimate Stranger? Livesey gives very good and interesting performances in those two films as well. Powell, Losey, Richardson -- interesting that Livesey choice in directors was solid, despite his small filmography overall. But I guess the same could be said for lots of British theater-types: Paul Scofield, Wendy Hiller, et al.

By the way, just to join in on the ethical ambivalence of Blimp's script: Remember that it was Pressburger who came up with the plot and story's arc. As a refugee from Nazi-occupied Europe and a thorough Anglophile, he probably wasn't terribly interested in parsing such niceties. I suspect that he genuinely believed in the overall goodness of the British character and wanted to rouse them against what he probably saw as the greatest evil European culture had ever seen.

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Gregory
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#15 Post by Gregory » Wed Oct 12, 2005 2:53 pm

To Pressburger they were mere niceties, you mean. To me the significance of it goes far, far beyond that.
And I think the British were about as roused against the Axis Powers as they could possibly be by the 1940s.

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tryavna
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#16 Post by tryavna » Wed Oct 12, 2005 3:33 pm

Gregory wrote:To Pressburger they were mere niceties, you mean.
Yes.
To me the significance of it goes far, far beyond that.
Me, too. I just wanted to draw attention to an obvious fact that we shouldn't overlook: that besides being a propoganda picture of sorts, it's also partly the creation of a refugee who was also an unapologetic Anglophile. My impression has always been that Pressburger genuinely believed in the stereotypical "gentleness"/"gentlemanliness" of the British people and their institutions. There's no way that Pressburger could have made Walbrook's long speech to the refugee officer so believable or so moving if he didn't honestly believe it.
And I think the British were about as roused against the Axis Powers as they could possibly be by the 1940s.
Perhaps, but that's not the message of the film itself. The film's message is that (at least some of) the British public needed further rousing. Hence the symbolic, transformative "death" of Col. Blimp.

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#17 Post by ellipsis7 » Wed Oct 12, 2005 3:43 pm

The speech to the immigration officer is directly and passionately informed by Pressburger's personal experience... But there are lots of other sources incorporated in the script, with considerable Powell input... Do read the Faber edn of the script which includes a fascinating set of associated documents, including the unclassified secret memos detailing Churchill's attempts to suppress the film (some of which are on the CC disc)...

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#18 Post by Dorian Gray » Wed Apr 19, 2006 2:25 am

Here's a Criterion / Carlton / Institut Lumiere comparison The Criterion disc still looks fine to me..

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#19 Post by Napoleon » Wed Apr 19, 2006 5:38 am

The Criterion and Institut Lumière look like they are using the same transfer (aside from the capture of the credits, which is odd).

At times does it appear that the Institut Lumière strobes like an 80's disco? Because that would confirm it.

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#20 Post by Dorian Gray » Wed Apr 19, 2006 6:05 am

n. w. wrote:At times does it appear that the Institut Lumière strobes like an 80's disco? Because that would confirm it.
Well there are some red and green "flashes" sometimes, but nothing I've haven't seen before on Technicolor transfers for films that old.

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Ivy Mike
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#21 Post by Ivy Mike » Fri Jan 25, 2008 5:27 am

Digging this topic up, cause I just saw the film recently for the first time...

So head to head, do people prefer the Criterion or Warner, seeing as these are similar in color, based on caps (I've only rented the Crit)? The captures from Dorian Gray (nice work on those btw) seem to show the Warner R2 being less grainy, but is this done in a way that is natural or adherent to the original intent (not sure if there's really anyway to gauge this)?

Anyone who's seen both have an opinion?

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Svevan
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#22 Post by Svevan » Mon Jun 30, 2008 1:32 am

I just saw this film and I'm pleased to see the discussion held here three years ago was similar to the argument I was having in my head about the movie.

It's pretty easy to call Powell and Pressburger didactic without fully fleshing out just how they moralize and sentimentalize their country, so as a first comment, I have to say I loved the film despite my Sontag-ian misgivings about P&P's endings.
Gregory wrote:I just don't agree with the notion that it's ever necessary or inevitable for a nation to erode standards of international law to which it has agreed, for example against genocidal acts of warfare. My previous viewing of the film left me with the clear message that as lovable as Blimp is, his time has rightly past. It's likely that this was explicitly clear to the film's audience, too, within the wartime context.
Which part of Blimp's time has rightly passed? I suppose I must agree with the film's implicit assertion that the world changes, and was changing in between the two World Wars, and if we do not adapt with it we will lose ourselves; this is the forever conflict between the old and the young. Bob Dylan echoed it when he said
Your old road is
Rapidly agin'.
Please get out of the new one
If you can't lend your hand.
I have to agree with Gregory, though, that sacrificing national virtue or international law is never justified just because you're fighting against "the most devilish idea ever created by a human brain." Isn't this the same argument used in support of Gitmo, "enhanced interrogation," and warrantless wiretapping? This whole century we (Americans) have been calling every war "a new kind of war," and we never seem to wake up to the fact that there may never be an "old-fashioned war," and our scruples have to stay consistent no matter what the threat is.

What's interesting to me is how much justification is given for the "Blimp," as if being young and brash is something everyone does, and becoming a "Blimp" inevitably follows. P&P seem to be mourning the death of an old way of life, even if it had its romantic barbarisms (like dueling), yet bravely claiming that it will never come back and we must look forward only. It's an either/or proposition that I don't think we have to make. I think it's unfortunate when a filmmaker ties his/her film to so narrow a claim, or any claim at all; disagreeing with a film's message becomes a hindrance to loving it.

Also interesting to me is that both the film's implicit theme about growing old and out of touch and the explicit theme about Britain's changing status in the world and the war are very much tied to the historical context of the story - in fact, the two themes are hardly separate, even if they are distinct. P&P are the masters of making the specific universal, and they owe a lot to their "instant-fable" Technicolor photography for that (though that may just be a modern viewpoint towards pre-70s technicolor). Even in the B&W A Canterbury Tale, though, they're able to connect WWII to an event completely unrelated (the pilgrimages), using patriotism and religious song and symbol as their tools, thereby connecting both events to us.

I love that P&P care so much about their country and their ideas, and even more that they desired to make films with this level of depth for a very specific audience; I just wonder if the film's embedded statements threaten to make Life and Death of Colonel Blimp only as good as the context in which it is seen. If I had agreed with the film's ending sentiment more, I probably wouldn't have brought this whole topic up here (as I didn't with A Canterbury Tale or The Red Shoes, movies with equally "meaningful" endings that are easier to swallow).
Last edited by Svevan on Wed Jul 02, 2008 4:55 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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#23 Post by myrnaloyisdope » Mon Jun 30, 2008 2:03 am

Some good points Svevan.

I think the film is great, and it might be my favorite P&P film. But I get the impression that the final act of the film is simply a product of it being made during the war. It feels very much like a bit of propaganda, as the film attempts to offer justifications for committing atrocities in wartime. I think if it was made pre-war, Blimp wouldn't appear nearly so quaint and out-of-touch, and if it was made post-war I think Blimp would have been treated with a sense of irony. But given the climate it was made, I think I understand P&P's choice to essentially go with a pro-Britain, anti-Germany agenda.

Also I love a woman in uniform, and Deborah Kerr fits the bill to a T.

Anonymous

#24 Post by Anonymous » Mon Sep 29, 2008 12:06 am

Quite simply, I think this is one of the most overlooked films ever. It really should be England's Gone With The Wind. It is so charming, witty, beautiful, controversial, daring, mysterious, and dramatic. I can't believe it's a 1943 film. I adore this film.

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Mr Sausage
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#25 Post by Mr Sausage » Mon Sep 29, 2008 12:51 pm

Skuj wrote:I can't believe it's a 1943 film.
Why?

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